It seems that everyone is a foodie or aspires to be a foodie these days. But the reality is that there is a limited number of truly influential bloggers. This world of elite writers is even segmenting further as the top bloggers are becoming entrepreneurial media empires. Once they just impressed their friends and family with their cooking prowess or food knowledge and appreciation. Now they are transforming their passion into a multimedia brand that connects with their audiences through regular blog posts, signature recipes, beautifully photographed cookbooks – not to mention often being a featured chef on food shows and hosting their websites complete with e-commerce to sell cookware and gadgets.
As you can imagine, the competition among the myriad food-related companies who want to catch the attention of these elite bloggers is getting more fierce. In the past, if you had a great new food product combined with a recipe or use that resulted in high-impact photos, you could get a nice post (of course while also making it completely transparent that they received the product from the company, per Federal Trade Commission guidelines). But many bloggers will no longer try out a product with family and friends in exchange for a post.
Now top-tier bloggers want a deeper relationship and understanding of the product, brand, or company. They want to either experience the product in a unique way that they couldn't readily do at home, or build a deeper understanding of the company through one-on-one conversations with key executives, nutritionists, engineers, or chefs. They want to be immersed in the company's culture and thinking before becoming a fan or advocate of the brand.
One clever way to have time with these bloggers is to guerilla into their extremely tight schedule with a service they can really use. Recently, there was a major blogger event in Atlanta. Bloggers were coming in from around the country, getting off their planes, needing transportation to their hotel, and craving some snacks before the whirlwind of planned events began. As Atlanta is the home of one our clients, Moe's Southwest Grill, we knew the 20-minute ride would be the perfect amount of time to let the blogger unwind from the plane ride listening to Moe's famous playlist of rock and roll favorites while munching on whole grain tortilla chips with handmade guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. The Moe's Rock and Roll Bus picked up bloggers at the airport and whisked them to the event while top executives and the executive chef served up delicious snacks. When the bloggers embarked from the bus, they were relaxed and feeling good.
More importantly, they had a great story to tell at the conference and back home about how the top people at Moe's went above and beyond giving them a ride that they wouldn't forget for a long time.
Brenda Lynch is a senior partner and founding member of the Finn Partners Foodinistas. She is based in the company's Los Angeles office.